Pet Policy for Rentals

Tenants with Pets

Policies to Think About Before Allowing Pets

At Oak City Properties, we often get questions about how to handle pets when it comes to a rental property. Do I have to accept a tenant with pets? How do I handle the fees associated with pets? There is no straightforward answer to these questions, which makes the decision to allow pets in your rental property a rather stressful topic. To better understand your options as a landlord and outline a few regulations, let’s break these questions down a little further.

Understand the law

Pets are not considered a protected class under the Federal Fair Housing Guidelines. So you are certainly within your rights to deny an applicant simply for having a pet under normal circumstances. The only circumstances where this does not apply are in the cases of “Service Animals” or “Therapy Pets”. If a tenant has the appropriate paperwork for a service animal, Federal Law under the Americans With Disabilities Act and/or Fair Housing Act cannot be denied based on the pet.

Pet Deposit -vs- Pet Fee

The difference between a pet deposit and a pet fee is that one is refundable and the other is not.

  • A Pet Deposit is usually refundable if there is no pet damage when the tenant moves out of the property. If there is damage to the rental property, you need to have proof and create an itemized list of the damages and how much it will cost to repair those said damages.
  • A Pet Fee is a one-time cost to allow a pet into the rental property, and it doesn’t typically cover any damages the pet may cause while the tenant occupies the home.

If a pet falls under the Federal Law in regards to the Americans With Disabilities Act and/or Fair Housing Act, a landlord cannot charge a pet deposit or fee. Charges can only be made if the pet causes damage to the property during the tenancy period.

What should I charge for a pet?

There are many different types of pet fees that a landlord could charge.

  • A flat pet deposit rate
  • A pet fee
  • A one-time pet fee
  • A pet security deposit that is refundable.

Whether you mix and match these options or choose one set fee for your tenant, most people are just happy to find a comfortable home for their furry friend. To answer the question, pick an option that is good for you and your rental property and go with it!

A simple suggestion

Pets are owned by 75% of tenants, and it is recommended to indicate in the marketing of your home that pets are “negotiable.” This wording will allow you the opportunity to screen all potential applicants and simply determine which ones best fit your criteria while still having the ability to determine what type of pet you are comfortable with or not.
Want to learn more about service animals and therapy animals when renting out your property? Take a look at the following blog:

Want to learn more about property management services?

At Oak City Properties, we make sure to work with you each step of the way when renting out your property. Our full management property service will market the property, locate prospective tenants, and show the home. Once a tenant is placed in your rental property, we will: collect rent payments, provide 24/7 maintenance, help with accounting/tax services, assess and collect late payment fees. If you are interested in learning more, give us a call at (919) 232-9222 or check out our website:

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